She's Leaving Home

Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Play Video


  • This was based on a newspaper story Paul McCartney read about a runaway girl. On February 27th, 1967 the London Daily Mail's headline read: "A-Level Girl Dumps Car And Vanishes." That girl was 17-year-old Melanie Coe, who had ran away from home leaving everything behind. Her father was quoted as saying, "I cannot imagine why she should run away, she has everything here."

    McCartney said in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "We'd seen that story and it was my inspiration. There was a lot of these at the time and that was enough to give us the storyline. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and the parents wake up, it was rather poignant. I like it as a song and when I showed it to John, he added the Greek chorus and long sustained notes. One of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly."
  • Melanie Coe, who became an estate agency director, told Dave Simpson her story in a 2008 interview for The Guardian. Said Coe: "London was a very different place in the '60s. I went to a club called the Bag O' Nails [Soho] and I met everybody. You sat on the next table to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, because there weren't many clubs in London. I got in coz I was a cute little girl and I dressed in the latest fashions. I'd go to Mary Quant and Biba, sketch the dress and get my aunt to make my clothes. Ready Steady Go! loved that. They held open auditions. I was 13. It went on what you were wearing and how you danced. I was asked to come every week. I met the Beatles at Ready Steady Go! George was great to meet - I looked a lot like Pattie Boyd, who later became his wife, of course.

    I was always going out. I danced the night away and was a face in London. In those days, to be trendy everything had to be French. I bought the T-shirt of the moment, which was my star sign in French. I loved that T-shirt. One day I got home and my mother had cut it to ribbons. She wanted me to look like Princess Anne, not my idol, Marianne Faithfull. When my parents found out I had the pill they grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and made me flush them down the toilet.

    I was 17 by then and ran away leaving a note, just like in the song. I went to a doctor and he said I was pregnant, but I didn't know that before I left home. My best friend at the time was married to Ritchie Blackmore, so she hid me at their house in Holloway Road. It was the first place my parents came to look, so I ran off with my boyfriend, who was a croupier, although he had been 'in the motor trade' like it says in the song. I think my dad called up the newspapers - my picture was on the front pages. He made out that I must have been kidnapped, because why would I leave? They gave me everything - coats, cars. But not love. My parents found me after three weeks and I had an abortion.

    I didn't realize for a long time that the song was about me. Years later Paul was on a program talking about how he'd seen a newspaper article and been inspired by it. My mother pieced it all together and called me to say, 'That song's about you!'

    I can't listen to the song. It's just too sad for me. My parents died a long time ago and we were never resolved. That line, 'She's leaving home after living alone for so many years' is so weird to me because that's why I left. I was so alone. How did Paul know that those were the feelings that drove me towards one-night stands with rock stars? I don't think he can have possibly realized that he'd met me when I was 13 on Ready Steady Go!, but when he saw the picture, something just clicked."
  • No Beatles played instruments on this. John and Paul contributed vocals, which were double-tracked to sound like a quartet, and session musicians played strings. The first female to play on a Beatles album, Sheila Bromberg, played harp. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Paul McCartney used his falsetto sparingly but effectively in his Beatles years. On this song, he goes up high in the contrasting lines in the chorus ("she... is leaving... home"), as John Lennon sings the part of the girl's parents in a plaintive manner ("we gave her most of our lives...").
  • The string section was arranged by Mike Leander because producer George Martin was busy. Leander would later arrange strings for The Rolling Stones on "As Tears Go By."
  • Some of the lyrics were things John Lennon's Aunt Mimi said to him as a child. She raised John after his parents separated.
  • In 1988 this was covered by Billy Bragg as part of the children's charity project album Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father. His version was released as a single in the UK as part of a double A side with Wet Wet Wet's version of "With A Little Help From My Friends." The double A sided single topped the UK charts for four weeks.
  • Nilsson covered this, along with "You Can't Do That," for his 1967 breakthrough album, Pandemonium Shadow Show. Shortly after, the Beatles named Nilsson as their favorite singer.

Comments: 59

  • Duane from Temple, TxThis is the only Beatles song in my collection. Haunting and sad chord progression and lyrics.
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenThe song has similarities with Mendelssohn's violin concert, the second movement.
  • Mike from Park Ridge , IlI have mixed feelings about the situation. Her mom cuts up the shirt which was probably dumb, since it didn't have an bad messages but the daughter was out of line of having sex out of wedlock and who knows what else was going on between her and her folks.

  • Tom from Freiburg, GermanyNormally George Martin would write all the string scores for Beatles' songs, but this time he was unavailable because he had to fulfill another commitment. So Paul simply hired Mike Leander to write the string orchestra score. Obviously there was a little power play going on between George M. and Paul.
  • Ulv from BodÃ?, NorwayNo doubt the facts about how the song was made are true. Also, there is little reason to construct a suicide metaphor; she leaves to have fun, to live her life, in the real story and in the song. I am not particularly interested in English teenagers running wild; still, this song has stuck with me for all those years. I think Paul used the facts to construct a much more fundamental metaphor. This is the break-up between generations. Even though I never made that escape in real life, I went though it as a mental process. This was 1967. A whole new generation saw the failure of their parents; clinging to material values, starting new wars and not learning from history, yielding to conformity pressure, unable to understand and appreciate that the young people struggled hard to liberate themselves through music, fashion and new places to meet. The young were angry and had a lot of accusations against their parents; still, She's Leaving Home expresses the soreness and sadness linked to this inevitable personal, philosophical and political break-up. The song in a way shows that the departure for new values was inevitable, and for people like me it provided comfort in a confusing time. "What did we do that was wrong?" — I think my generation is now busy making mistakes that prepares the ground for another great departure. New metaphors pop up in songwriters' heads as you read this, and the odd one will stay with you for the rest of your life.
  • David from Wolverhampton, United KingdomNice video here with Sheila Bromberg ( Harpist on 'She's Leaving Home' ) talking about the recording session.
  • Rick from Alamo, TxThis is the only Beatle song that I don't like. I love the Beatles music but I just could never get used to this particular song.
  • Rich from Wall , NjGreat Vocals by the best songwriting duo of our time.
  • Cody from New York, NyWhen Paul and Linda McCartney guest stared on the simpsons, when lisa talks to apu on the roff, she mentions that she doesn't know who she us and might run away. Paul then comes from the bushes, saying "wait? she's leaving home?" paying homage to the classic beatle song
  • Wayne from Salem, VaThis is my favorite song from "Sgt. Pepper". "She's leaving home after living alone for so many years". The woman was suffocating. Being stuck there constantly with her parents'. Not being able to live her own life. To be her own person,her own self. She had to leave so that she could live. To be free. "Stepping outside she is free". "We gave her everything money could buy". Everything except her own freedom. "She's leaving home,bye,bye". As for Brian from IL. People can read into things all they want. But just read the first paragraph at the top of this page.Paul got the idea directly from the newspaper story in The Daily Mirror (not the Daily Mail).
  • Lee from Sydney, AustraliaWonderfully covered by Harry Nilsson on his debut album, recorded only days after he first heard the song. A very faithful cover, with the strings largely replaced by a small brass ensemble. Possibly one reason why the Beatles later (flippantly?) described Nilsson as their favourite American artist. That Nilsson album is a great forgotton masterpiece of the psychedlic era.
  • Steve from Salt Lake City, UtThis song is without question one of the Beatles best. You can feel the mothers pain. This song is about a young lady who has come of age and knows it is time to leave while she still loves her parents. The mother obviously doesn't think she is ready, but who's mother ever did. I'm positive she phoned home that night and told her everything was fine. This is one of those songs where Paul was just God's canvass. Who has these tunes just bouncing around in their heads?
  • Faith from Liverpool, --"Fun is the one thing that money can't buy." uh oh! Beatles- you forgot that "Money Can't Buy Me Love" either.
  • Rosario from Naples, Flhow is she having fun by "meeting a man from teh motor trade?" thats sounds boring. Especially at 9 in the morning.
  • Eamonn from Dublin, IrelandCould it be that suicide was on her mind. Secretive planning, the note, parents who didnt seem to understand her "where did we go wrong"
    "we sacrificed ", her loneliness,
    the fatal appointment.
  • Jesus Herrera from Mexico, --Let me trhow another wild theory:
    Isn't the song "Leaving home ain't easy, from the album Jazz of Queen, a sequel to this song?
    It apparently describes what happens to the girl right after "Stepping outside she is free"...
  • Samantha from Bowie, MdI think Brian needs to watch "The Davinci Code"
    really are you serious....

    great song though. I love Paul's voice!
  • Jose from São Paulo, BrazilI don't like that orchestration. Maybe it's becouse HARP hurts my ears.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAs noted, George Martin did not do the orchestration score for this song. Paul had asked him to work with him on it on a particular night, but Martin already was scheduled to produce a Cilla Black session that evening. Rather than push it back a few days, Paul hired another arrainger to write the score with him. Martin was furious about that, but went ahead and conducted the orchestra using someone else's arraingment when the track was recorded.
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiBrian, you disturb me. You must like Charles Manson or something...
  • Colin from London, EnglandWith reference to Brian's comment. Whatever...
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhThe part with the "Greek chorus" is an especially scintillating listen.
  • Brian from Momence, IlHello avid Beatles' fans!!! The time is nearing that a new view of songs produced by John and Paul will take on a new light and an incredible new power. A relationship between a series of songs on Sgt. Pepper and a series of passages found in the Bible has been established. Out of this relationship comes an understanding of John and Paul's creative power as never before.

    She's Leaving Home is a parable-like rendition of the entire chapter of Revelations 12. Revelations 12 is a story about 'a woman and a dragon'. By analyzing the works of John and Paul I have been able to conclude that Revelations 12 is really a story about how components of the world will react when the bloodline of Christ begins its reemergence back into our daily lives.

    To put it quite bluntly, Revelations 12 is a story about how organized religion will react to the finding of the tomb of Mary Magdalene. The finding of her tomb will bring about the eventual end of organized religion.

    By naming the song She's Leaving Home what is really being said is that 'Mary is being dug up and removed from the earth which has been her home for many years'.

    Well, I'll leave you now. If you have further interest please contact me at

    You see, it is my contention that the location of the tomb of Mary Magdalene can be lifted from the works of John and Paul. Is that a wild ass assertion or what? Well, I assure you that what I have to disclose will leave you speechless and in awe of what John and Paul accomplished.

  • Joe from Fort Meade, MdThe fact that 50 packs heat is the reason why he's better than The Beatles? He wasn't holding said gun to your head at the time was he? That's the only way to explain those asinine comments of yours. 50 Cent made a CD of 18 songs about 3 different topics. Then he came back a year and change later and made another 20 about 2 topics. Pull your head out of your rectum use your ears (assuming the bass hasn't rattled them beyond repair) and LISTEN to what The Beatles are saying and tell me you have the same opinion.

    By the way, for intelligent rap fans everywhere (myself included) I apologize for the Aussie's comments, though I think this is his sick idea of a joke.
  • Chris from Melbourne, Australia"The appointment she made" and "Meeting a man from the motor car trade" probably means she's going for a job interview and the person she's being interviewed by is in the automobile business, probably selling cars. Thing is, she's leaving home and so she'll need to generate an income, which usually means getting a job.
  • Melciber from Tarifa, SpainMelanie Coe is currently (March 2007)living in the Cadiz province of Spain with her family of two children. She and her partner of 25 years are working selling property in Olvera.

    The song was never about a suicide.

    Melanie first met Paul when she was 14 at a "Ready, Steady, Go" set, where a mime competition was organised, that she won. (currently available at: )
  • Jason from London, EnglandI was givena piece of homework. i was given the first stanza nd asked to complete it any way i would like but as a story. im not sure what to say after the mother finds the note. can u lot help me out??? thanks
  • Eric from ValenciaIf 50 cent is the subject of as much discussion, serious analysis and comment as The Beatles are forty years after the event, I will eat my own knees. And of course by carrying a gun 50 cent is, ipso facto, more talented than the fabs. Yeah, right!
  • Sal from Bardonia , NyAnother one of those songs they did without rock instruments and the meter in the song is 12/8.
    Sal, Bardonia, NY
  • Steve from Fenton, MoA beautiful melody, arrangement, and vocal. It would have been a great single. Speaking of the singles, it's not all of the number 1 singles The Beatles recorded that makes them so great. It's all of the great songs that end up being album tracks or B-sides of singles. They were such prolific composers, there just wasn't enough calendar time in their career as The Beatles to release all of the great songs as singles.
  • Mike from Germantown, MdI think I read somewhere that, coincidentally, Paul McCartney gave the girl who inspired this song a prize on a British TV Show in 1964.
  • Bill from Sydney, AustraliaI think that the beatles did not have any skill whatsoever, they just simply chilled out and had a bit of LSD every now and then. What the hell is wrong with you people i clearly think that 50 cent is way on top of these guys, the beatles didn't carry a gun did they? no? well 50 does so i think every one of you should rethink your comments and repost them for the beatles did not have any skill as i have clearly stated. Rip 2pac. Bill Crosembury
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrLOVE the Beatles. Not a fan of this song.
  • J from Toronto, CanadaI think this song is also about the relationships between teenagers and their parents in the 50s and 60s where parents thought music was corrupting the teenage mind.With the parents trying to have their own way on the teens the teens then left home due to the gaining of freedom and independance adapted from music.
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlThis is one of the most beautiful songs the group ever did. The violins are heartbraking, and the melody is haunting. Whatever the inspiration was, the fictitous girl who left home remains vivid in the mind. She represents every girl, who out of manifest desperation, did the ultimate rebellion. She gave up all of the securities, great and small, for the unknown, and with the unknown. Man, that's sad.
  • Taike from Lungtan, TaiwanA most beautiful song and although not as much as an attack on society as with The Who's My Generation, a conflict between parents and daughter. So this makes it more personal then My Generation. The mother's words show her ignorance and how she tried to buy her love by giving her all the things money can buy.

    You can say that it's based on more then just 'one' true event. Guess we've all been there one way or another.
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlI agree with Mary of Virginia Beach. It is simply what it states. Sometimes there is an over analyzation with interpretation of their music. Listen to it, and enjoy it--plain and simple.
  • Mary from Virginia Beach, VaI don't think you should interperet this song to much. It is about a runaway girl. You're over complicating things.
  • Sylvia from London, EnglandReally nice song. I love the lyrics and the tune. Pretty.
  • Mauricio from Hanford, CaSuch a calm and relaxing song. It's also sad because no matter what they tried, she still ran away. Such great music, great vocals, makes me want to cry...
  • Lee from Clearwater, Fl This is one of the most beautiful songs the group ever did. The violins are heartbraking, and the melody is haunting. Whatever the inspiration was, the fictitous girl who left home remains vivid in the mind. She represents every girl, who out of manifest desperation, did the ultimate rebellion. She gave up all of the securities, great and small, for the unknown, and with the unknown. Man, that's sad.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScShirley: how do you know about her, and how do you know she's that same girl.
  • Shirley from Ocean, NjThis is actually a true story about a girl that just "simply" ran away. She now lives in London and makes and sells jewelry.
  • Maureen from London, EnglandI just absoulutely LOVE this song!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScWow what a sad song. the strings on it are beautiful.
  • Ross from Atlanta, Gaon the back of the record sleeve you can see george harrison pointing to the words five o'clock hinting that that was the time of paul's "death"
  • Ken from Louisville, KyOne of the few Beatles songs (prior to the "Get Back/Let It Be" sessions) not to be recorded at EMI's Abbey Road Studios. This was recorded at Olympia Studios in London.
  • Calum from Edinburgh, ScotlandI read somewhwre that the man from the motor trade (which by the way means he sells cars) was a real person who was known to The Beatles, pr to Paul anyway. I think you could over-analyse what this man and her appointment with him signifies. If somone were to run away, there would be all sorts of details unique to their situation. I think it makes it more real that the song includes these obscure references. If it was "meeting her boyfriend who had it made" or something, it would be not be as personalised.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Sci don't think it's about a girl who commited suicide. I think it's about a girl who ran away. Hence, the title of the song.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanCovered by Billy Bragg.
  • Jasper from Berkeley, CaIt's always been my interpretation of this song that the girl was leaving home because her parents never let her see her boyfriend. The part where she meets the man from the motor trade is her meeting up with her boyfriend, and then she can have fun again.
  • Brian from La, CaSo, a guess; the girl is going to get an abortion. Thats with its such a shock to her parents that she is leaving. Also explains "the appointment she made..." with a doctor? I don't know what a motor trade is, but maybe its like penny saver.
  • Ashley from Boonsboro, Md"Meeting a man from the motor trade" could also mean the funeral car and the gathering usually occurs a couple days after someones death so that could explain why she didnt find a ride as soon as she ran away. Im still in dispute with my self but Im drifting more towards suicide. Then again it can be looked at as runaway to but most suicides have a letter
  • Jo from Toronto, CanadaRJ, I think "living alone" refers to how misunderstood she was by her parents and how alone she felt with them. Teenagers were leaving home in droves in the 1960s, due to the "generation gap" so this song reflected a reality of the times.
  • Rj from Rockville Centre, NyHas anybody ever considered that this song might be an extended metaphor about a girl who committs suicide? Some of the lyrics seem to contradict themselves -- for instance, they mention that "she's leaving home after living alone for so many years," yet it should be implied that the girl in this song lived with her parents for all of her life to that point. Could this mean that she felt alone all of her life and she couldn't stand it anymore, so she killed herself? She left her parents a letter...could this be a suicide note? There's always a letter to go along with suicide.

    Then again, the whole "meeting a man from the motor trade" thing does sort of debunk this idea. However, that "living alone" line gets me every time. I know I'm reading into this too much, but it just doesn't make sense! Thanks.
  • Paulo from New York, NyThe band Cake has a song called "Jolene" which almost seems to be inspired by "She's Leaving Home"; or at least has a verse that brings to mind a verse in the latter song. The Cake verse in question:
    "Jolene heard her father's uneven snores.
    Right then she knew there must be something more.
    Jolene heard the singing in the forest.
    She opened the door quietly and stepped into the night."
  • Greg from Little River, ScThe girl who this song is about was on one of the beatles performences of Ready, Steady, Go!
    She was also seen in that perfomence. You can see her in the book Hard days write.
  • Stykman from Little River, ScPlease, Any one let me know where I could Get a version of this song from the back in the US tour
  • Klasic Rok from Battle Ground, WaOn Oct. 18th, 2002, at his Back in the U.S. concert in Portland, OR Paul McCartney and his back-up band played a magical performance of this song for the first time in the tour. That version is not available on any CD or DVD of the concert.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Song Cities

Song CitiesMusic Quiz

Nirvana, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen are among those who wrote songs with cities that show up in this quiz.

Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty

Rob Thomas of Matchbox TwentySongwriter Interviews

Rob Thomas on his Social Distance Sessions, co-starring with a camel, and his friendship with Carlos Santana.

Actors With Hit Songs

Actors With Hit SongsMusic Quiz

Many actors have attempted music, but only a few have managed a hit. Do you know which of these thespians charted?

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.